LAHORE: The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and the Agriculture Department have jointly launched a ‘direct subsidy on fertilisers’ programme, replacing the earlier system by cutting down the price to ensure maximum transparency and evaluation mechanism, said PITB Chairman Umar Saif.
Talking to a group of journalists on Friday, he said that the PITB has developed a web portal for this purpose; enabling fertiliser marketing companies to generate unique codes for their products (MOP, SOP and DAP). The codes are printed and pasted inside fertiliser bags. The registered farmer, after the purchase, will note down the coupon and send a SMS to the designated number after which the system sends back a confirmation. The registered farmer can then go to an agent with the SMS and original CNIC to cash the subsidy amount.
The developed system updates in real-time every successive transaction, location and usage details, resulting in more transparency and accuracy in delivering cash subsidies to registered farmers. It also provides a vast database of registered farmers and statistics regarding the geographical use of certain fertilisers.
Saif said that the Punjab government buys 40% of the wheat produced in the province every year to stabilise market price of this staple crop. The PITB has also developed a centralised system based on an android application to verify and record data of farmers from whom wheat is purchased by the government.
The centralised system provides real-time reports of wheat procurement process from each centre. The application has an inbuilt feedback system that sends SMS and makes automated calls to farmers to gather their feedback on the procurement process.
Punjab has established 382 online procurement centres in 36 districts and 144 tehsils, benefiting more than 300,000 farmers every year, the chairman added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2018.